Geothermal energy for food and water security for Yemen: a review


Yemen’s economy, food security, and energy have touched rock bottom due to the 2015 devastating war. The country’s imports have plunged from 13,292 million US$ in 2013 to 6580 US$ in 2015. In order to help Yemen fight poverty and hunger, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Organization proposed to spend 218.5 million US$ to support about 80 million people affected due to food scarcity and hunger. In this paper, it is shown that part of this fund can be spent to develop geothermal energy in Yemen to provide food and energy security permanently. The cost of developing 1057 × 106 kWh of power from the Damt site would cost around 80 billion US$. Developing two such sites would cost well below the aid proposed by the (FAO 2019). This power can be utilized to establish desalination plants to provide fresh water. This will provide a permanent solution to water and food scarcity in the country. The levelized cost of generating 1 MWh power from geothermal sources is about 76 US$. Developing two such sites would cost well below the aid proposed by the FAO. According to the earlier work, 173 billion liters of freshwater can be generated using 1057 × 106 kWh of geothermal energy at 278 billion US$. Using fossil fuels, as source energy for desalination, the freshwater generation cost would be similar but at the cost of huge CO2 emissions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Data availability

All data is shown in the manuscript.


  1. Assessment Capacities Projects (ACAPS) (2019) Yemen: Drivers for food insecurity. 9p. Accessed Apr 2019

  2. Al-Kebsi YA, Chandrasekharam D (2000) Saltwater contamination in the coastal aquifer, Tihama plain, Wadi Surdud, Yemen Republic. In "Groundwater 2000" Proceed. (Eds). P.L.Bjerg, P.Engesgaard and T.D. Krom, A.A.Balkema Pub.Com. The Netherlands, pp 223-224

  3. Chandrasekharam D, Bundschuh J (2008) Low enthalpy geothermal resources for power generation. Taylor and Francis Pub; U.K., pp 169

  4. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A and Al Arifi N (2014) CO2 mitigation strategy through geothermal energy, Saudi Arabia. Renew. Sustain Energy Rev 38:154–163

  5. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al Bassam A, Ranjith PG, Varun C, Singh HK (2015) Geothermal energy resources of Jizan, SW Saudi Arabia. J. African Earth Sci 109:55–67

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al-Bassam M (2016) Red Sea geothermal provinces. CRC Press, U.K, p 221

    Google Scholar 

  7. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al-Bassam AM (2018a) Energy and food security through desalination using geothermal energy: Eritrea. Arabian Journal of Geosciences 11:523.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Chandrasekharam D Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al-Bassam A M (2018b) Desalination of seawater using geothermal energy for food and water security: Arab and Sub-Sahara countries. Chapter 4 G. Gnaneswar (Etd). “Handbook on Sustainable Desalination Handbook – Process Design and Implementation Strategies;” Elsevier Pub, New York,  p 590

  9. Dawoud MA, Al Mulla MM (2012) Environmental impacts of seawaterdesalination: Arabian Gulf case study. Int J Environ Sustain 1:22–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Douglas C (2016) A storm without rain: Yemen, water, climate change and conflict. The center for climate and security, Briefer No; 40 1-8.

  11. Dowgiallo J (1986) Thermal waters of the Yemen Arab Republic. Geothermics 15:63–76

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. EIA (2014) US Energy Information Administration. Yemen 2p. Accessed Dec 2019

  13. EIA (2016) How much carbon dioxide is produced per kilowatt hourwhen generating electricity with fossil fuels? US Energy InformationAdministration. Accessed 20 Nov 2019

  14. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) (2019) Humanitarian response plan 2019. FAO report, 2p

  15. Fara M, Chandrasekharam D, Minissale A (1999) Hydrogeochemistry of Damt thermal springs, Yemen Republic. Geothermics 28:241–252

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fiorenza G, Sharma VK, Braccio G (2003) Techno-economic evaluationof a solar powered water desalination plant. Energy Convers Manag 442217–2240

  17. Ghaffour N, Lattemann S, Missimer T, Ng KC, Sinha S, Amy G (2014) Renewable energy-driven innovativeenergy-efficient desalination technologies. App Energy 136:1155–1165

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Glass N (2010) The water crisis in Yemen: causes, consequences and solutions. Global Majority E Journal 1:17–30

    Google Scholar 

  19. Gude VG, Nirmalakhandan N, Deng S (2010) Renewable andsustainable approaches for desalination. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 14:2641–2654

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Hadil ME, Layah M, Laur S (2017) Yemen between the impact of climate change and ongoing Saudi-Yemen war: a real tragedy. An analytical report published by the Centre for Governance and Peace-building Yemen, in collaboration with Centre for International Development Issues, Nijimenjen, The Netherlands. Radbound University, Sana’a Report , Yemen, 11p

  21. Herzberg A (2019) Urban water scarcity in sana’a, Yemen. Focus 15(1):101–109

  22. Houssein B, Chandrasekharam D, Varun C, Jalludin M (2013) Geochemistry of thermal springs around Lake Abhe Western Djibouti. J. Sustainable Energy.

  23. Karytsas C, Mendrinos D, Radoglou G (2004) The current geothermal exploration and development of the geothermal field of Milos Island in Greece. GeoHeat Centre Quarterly Bulletin 25(2):17–21

    Google Scholar 

  24. Mattash MA, Vaselli O, Minissale A, Ad-Dukhain A and Hazza, M (2005) The first geothermal resources map of Yemen, at a 1: 125 000 scale. Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, Sana’a (Republic of Yemen)

  25. McSweeney C, New M, Lizcano G (2010) UNDP Climate Change Country Profiles: Yemen. Accessed 20 Nov 2019

  26. Ministry of Foreign affairs (MFAN) (2018) Climate change profile, Yemen. Report by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, 16p

  27. Minissale A, Mattash MA, Vaselli O, Tassi F, Al Ganad IN, Selmo E, Shawki NM, Tedesco D, Poreda R, AdDukhain AM, Hazzae MK (2007) Thermal springs, fumeroles and gas vents of continental Yemen: their relation with active tectonics, regional hydrology and the country’s geothermal potential. App Geochem 22:799–820

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Minissale A, Chandrasekharam D and Fara M A 2018 Desalination of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden seawater to mitigate fresh water crisis in Yemen Republic. Chapter 12 in N. Rasul and Stewart (etds). Oceanographic and biological aspects of the Red Sea; Springer.

  29. Minissale A Chandrasekharam D, Fara MA (2019) Desalination of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden seawater to mitigate fresh water crisis in Yemen Republic. Chapter 12 in N. Rasul and Stewart (etds). Oceanographic and biological aspects of the Red Sea. Springer.

  30. Moyer JD, Bohl D, Hanna T, Mapes BR, Rafa M (2019) Assessing the impact of war on development in Yemen. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, p 68

  31. NATO Strategic Direction South (NSDS) (2019) Water scarcity in the Middle East. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) –NATO Strategic Direction South (NSDS) report, 22p

  32. Sarbatly R, Chiam CK (2013) Evaluation of geothermal energy in desalination by vacuum membraneDistillation; App Energy112 737–746

  33. Shrestha E, Ahman S, Johnson W, Shrastha P, Batista R (2011) Carbon footprint of water conveyance versus desalination as alternatives to expand water supply. Desalination 28033–28043

  34. Straits D (2017) The crisis surrounding poverty conflict and water in the Republic of Yemen; WASH Poverty Diagnostic Water global practice. Washington, DC, World Bank, p 127

  35. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) (2013) Inventory of shared water resources in Western Asia. UNESCWA and BGR (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe) report, 626p

  36. USAID (2016) Climate change risk profile; Yemen. Available at Accessed 20 Nov 2019

  37. Van der Gun JAM, Ahmed AA (1995) The water resources of Yemen a summary and digest of available information. Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, Yemen, and TNO; Institute of Applied Geosciences Netherlands p 108

  38. World Bank (WB )(2018) Beyond Scarcity: Water scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) development series, World Bank, Washington, Report, 233p

  39. World Bank (WB) (2019) Poverty and Equity and macro-economics. Trade and investment global practices. Yemen. World Bank, Washington, report, 2p

  40. WHO (2000) Global water supply and sanitation assessment GWSSA 2000 Report. WHO and UNICEF (UN Childrens’ Fund), New York, p 80

  41. Zhou T (2004) Evaluating the costs of desalinization and water transport; Working paper FNU-41, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, Germany, pp 14

Download references


The author thanks the Director, IITH, for providing facilities to write this paper.

Author information




The author’s contribution is 100%.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dornadula Chandrasekharam.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no competing interests.

Additional information

Responsible Editor:Amjad Kallel

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chandrasekharam, D. Geothermal energy for food and water security for Yemen: a review. Arab J Geosci 14, 253 (2021).

Download citation


  • Geothermal energy
  • Desalination
  • Yemen
  • Food security
  • Groundwater